“Tonight the board decided to terminate his coaching position,” Todd White of the Alabama Education Association said. “Statute of law, there’s no tenure for coaching, so you can do that at any time without any due process or whatever or any kind of decision. Coach Sparks was not found guilty of doing anything wrong at all. We did win the fight to save his teaching job. Once again, we want to make it clear that there is no state law for tenure for a coaching job. They found no wrongdoing for coach Sparks, so he is going to be able to continue his teaching job.”
The Star reported Sparks was placed on administrative leave Oct. 16. The last game he coached was against Lanett on Oct. 12.
White said the choice presented to Sparks was either to resign or to be fired.
“We were told that we were given on the table to either resign, or keep his coaching job to be terminated, or for him to resign from his teaching job. By law, we knew that that wasn’t correct,” White said, referring to an ouster from a teaching job.
Sparks stood quietly next to the room’s doors as the board announced its decision on a vote of 6-1; board members had spent 40 minutes discussing the topic in an executive session. Sparks said the decision is bittersweet.
“The decision wasn’t the decision that the superintendent and board wanted, obviously, but I guess I’m pleased with it under the circumstances,” he said. “But you’ve got to understand I’m a coach and that’s what I’m in the business to do, and I’m not going to be given that opportunity.”
With 2012 being Sparks’ third year at Randolph County and 18th season as a head football coach, he said he’ll need time consider whether he wants to continue coaching.
“With almost 38 years of service, I can retire,” Sparks said. “That may be an option. I’ve already got other options to coach so if I want to coach that won’t be a problem either.
“I need to do what’s best for my family and especially my son. Obviously, it’s very hurtful. This decision by the board has not hurt me, but it has hurt my son and it has hurt my players. I am just sad from that perspective.”
With Sparks’ son, Ty, only a junior at Randolph County, and a standout quarterback on the team, he said he’ll do whatever is best for his son.
Sparks compiled a 16-14 overall record at Randolph County and holds a 136-72 record as a head coach. He spent the first 15 years of his career at Wadley.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.